The last time we were in Monte Carlo, the doorman at the famous Casino took one look at us and declared, “Non.” Admittedly we were distinctly bedraggled and decidedly not dressed to impress, but we did expect at least to be able to peep inside the doors at the rich and famous gambling away the evening.
But Monsieur Le Jobsworth was having none of it, insisting we were neither properly attired nor financially equipped to rub shoulders with those on Le Inside. So be it, we thought. We don’t need to fritter away our time or hard-earned moolah in such a capricious pursuit. We turned our heels on the doorman and gave him the good old fashioned cold shoulder. That showed him. Or probably not.
It did mean that we were in no hurry to leave the good ship Wind Surf once we had docked inside the millionaire’s harbour on a perfect French Riviera morning. Millionaires? Looking around the Marina, it was clear you probably needed to be in billionaire territory to be able to afford to dock hereabouts.
Okay, our unique seafarer was the biggest yacht in the harbour, but the cost of the vessels we were now rubbing shoulders with was probably larger than the GDP of a medium-sized country.
Never mind. This morning we were focused purely on enjoying some time aboard. After three successive early wake-up times for shore excursions, we were determined to be more indolent and indulgent, starting with a late breakfast topside at the Veranda – with a gorgeous panoramic view of the Principality – and then a visit to the Spa for a massage, largely to ease some major muscle aches following yesterday’s Portofino hike, but also because, well, spa time.
With the majority of passengers off the ship, we could afford to enjoy the generous elbow room that Wind Surf provides, while also paying attention to the entertainment offerings. For the health-conscious, there were various programmes to Stretch, Walk or Yoga with fitness director Nathan, who then conducted a seminar called ‘Walking in comfort.’ A Hair Show Seminar was also on offer, while the afternoon featured line dancing classes and the chance to attend a talk on tomorrow’s destination, St Tropez.
Meanwhile, on Planet Megaship, some passengers are no doubt ziplining, go-karting, bowling or abseiling all over the SS Las Vegas At Sea. And we couldn’t be more grateful for the contrast. Windstar Cruises do not set out to bowl you over with their entertainments, you see. This is not about non-stop action and a constant need to be busy. This is about taking things at a leisurely pace, in a low-key but elegant way; enjoying good food and drinks while drinking in the view; listening to live music poolside with a good book; or taking a dip in the pool or one of the two hot-tubs that sit alongside.
In the evening, a duo plays in the Compass Rose indoor/outdoor lounge while the Lounge features the main band and a series of themed musical performances, from The Beatles to a “70s And 80s Night.” Last night we were treated to the Crew Show, a signature event aboard every Windstar voyage, with crew members demonstrating their talents in various different ways, from a waitress as Tina Turner to a cabin steward (and several assistants) as the band Guns ‘n Roses – and a more than passing Axel Rose impersonation, it has to be said.
The grand finale featured what has to be an utterly unique act, even by the standards of this wonderfully eclectic event – a male synchronised swimming team. Without water. The seven intrepid team members treated us to a wonderfully choreographed performance of complete hilarity that would put Britain’s Got Talent to shame. It certainly put us in stitches, and brought down the curtain on another immensely enjoyable day at sea.
Windstar Cruises proudly proclaim that their style of cruising is “180 degrees from ordinary.” On the evidence of five extremely full and enjoyable days so far, we would have to agree that this is not your average cruise in any way, shape or form. It is simply a whole new style of voyaging; distinct, original and definitely unordinary.
For those who value life’s rare and inventive experiences, this is definitely for you.
PS: Yes, we did, eventually, get off for a wander around Monte Carlo. The Doorman was still there, however, so we have yet to set foot inside the Casino.
Simon & Susan